It is evident how much digital technology has transformed the world.
From ordering food to giving directions to booking medical appointments, there is so much that interactive kiosks have done to make our lives easier.
Where the abundant benefits of this technology could be further applied is in the prison sector.
Uses of self-service kiosks in prisons
Self-service kiosks can be used for a variety of tasks in prisons. Those who currently using them have focused on three areas; Offender information, offender communication and offender services.
Offender information includes finding out personal details, FAQs of prison policies and procedures and providing a record of all the laws.
Offender communication allows the reduction of inflow of parcels and letters coming into the prison, with the prisoner being able to communicate with their families through e-messaging platforms.
Offender services focus on the daily needs of the prisoner, allowing them to manage their bank accounts, pick their meals out of a pre-set menu and booking appointments.
Cutting costs and time efficiency
Chris Grayling, Secretary of State, said in 2012 ‘the costs of running our prisons is too high and must be reduced. We can do this by being more innovative and efficient’. Since then, cutting the costs has become a national necessity as governmental spending on public prisons has taken a plunge almost year on year.
Digitised kiosks are then a great way to cut costs.
By having a self-service kiosk, the mundane administrative tasks such as processing mail and creating written records of prison policies become automated, reducing time and cost of paper processing.
This hugely saves costs in hiring administrative staff, but also frees up the capacity of prison officers to focus on security and rehabilitation.
The most important benefit which can be tied to the introduction of technology in prisons is rehabilitation. In other words, preparing offenders for normal society upon their release. As normal society is so reliant on technology, it is vital for prisoners to be comfortable with it.
The self-service kiosk is a great model for this. To name a few examples, the e-communication feature resembles writing emails, a vital skill for most jobs, and managing finances digitally mirrors online banking.
As a result, the prisoner develops independence from this and becomes self-sufficient in handling their own matters as they would need to do in the outside world.
Furthermore research on the Nordic countries, where reoffending statistics are amongst the lowest in the EU, shows that social integration is key for rehabilitation.
Self-service kiosks make this easier to achieve, with the delays of postal mail being replaced with regular e-communication. This allows offenders to keep in regular contact with their loved ones and makes social integration a lot easier.
Overall, digital kiosks make prisons more of a positive and productive environment for offenders.
The future of prison kiosks
As of 2019, there are currently 28 prisons that offer a type of digital kiosks for their prisoners. These are spread out through the UK from Wales to Doncaster to Exeter.